Book Club: Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

Henpicked’s book of the month for December 2016

Front cover of Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe against a blue Christmas scenic imageWe loved reading and discussing The Light Between Oceans during November and we’re looking forward to the film coming out soon – here’s the trailer.

A huge thank you to our book champions and to the Henpicked community for their comments and reviews. If you have any further thoughts please drop them into Disqus at the bottom of the article.

We’re really excited to announce that Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson will be our book of the month for December. It’s a funny, raunchy, and heartwarming story – perfect for Christmas. Here’s a couple of its reviews:

‘Full of quirky characters, friendship and humour, you will devour this engaging and heartwarming novel in one sitting’ – Sunday Express

‘Like a mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows – warm, melting your heart and cheering’ On My Bookshelf

‘Has all the best ingredients for a holiday read: the beautiful West Country, a family-run farm, and a mystery man with Poldark-style charms’ – Yours Magazine


We’re looking for 10 book champions so if you would like to volunteer, please let us know. We give each of our champions a FREE copy of the book of the month in return for hearing what you think about the book.

Just like last month, we’ll let our book club subscribers have some key points about the book to think about throughout the month and in the meantime, please do get reading!

Feel free to jump into the discussion about the book at any time during the month using Disqus which is ready and waiting for you and shows up at the bottom of this page – it’s free to sign up and once you are logged in, you can comment on any of the articles on the Henpicked website.

Last month’s book suggestions

Thank you to everyone who made suggestions for our book of the month. We had a good selection of books and these included Elizabeth is Missing by Emma HealeyVinegar Girl: The Taming of the Shrew Retold (Hogarth Shakespeare) by Anne TylerA Spool of Blue Thread also by Anne TylerThe Children Act by Ian McEwan

Please share news of our book club with your friends and encourage them to sign up and join our book club. You don’t need to be a member to comment but signing up will ensure that you receive our regular newsletters so that we can keep you updated with events.

We welcome you all and remember there is no right or wrong with reading – everyone’s opinion counts. Happy reading and getting into the Christmas spirit!


About Henpicked

From the Henpicked team!

  • Deborah

    I think I need this to start getting into the festive spirit – just not there yet!

  • Imogen Jamieson

    this looks like a dose of happy and fun Christmas froth!

  • OK well, I’ve got as far as downloading it to my Kindle. I’m travelling by train tomorrow so hoping to make a start … Let’s hope there’s some substance to the froth Imogen!

  • So, I’m 3 chapters in. It’s been easy going so far (there’s a lot of ‘product placement’ in there though) and I’m warming to the obviously slightly unsympathetic character of Becca; it’s not clear exactly why she hated Christmas so much as a kid but I assume it’s just because she’s more introvert than her sister. I can empathise with that. Anyone else started reading it?

    • Kay Garrett

      Yes I’m about halfway through Jane. It’s not really my cup of tea – Becca keeps telling us how unlikeable/unsociable she is then behaving in exactly the opposite way. My pet hate of an author telling but not showing. It’s easy enough to read but I have yet to find any substance, just a bunch of cliches!

      • Deborah

        Just got mine this morning. Very slim book compared to the last 2 but just as well really, Christmas is a busy time.

  • Diana Woodhead

    looking forward to starting the book looks like a light easy read, good for holidays

  • Kay Garrett

    So I’ve finished this now and the best thing I can say about it is that is was quick to read! I like a lighthearted read on occasion, but this went too far, and felt like I was reading a series of cliches. Old ladies are dotty but secretly wise, people who are drunk dance on tables, men are one-dimensional creatures who are constantly adoring, available and understanding. Nobody ever goes to work and those that do all work in a cafe with no customers. The ‘chalk and cheese’ siblings has been done to death (see In Her Shoes for a far better version of this) and no matter how much Becca kept hammering home how unlikeable and antisocial she was it didn’t actually show – her speech was cheery and funny and people seemed to like and warm to her. No spoilers but the end was completely unbelievable too! Not for me…

  • Diana Woodhead

    After last months thought provoking book, this was a bit of a let down.No substance and totally predictable I would ordinarily given up on the book after the first chapter but stuck with it. In its defence it was light hearted with a happy ending.

  • Alison Lobban

    Sorry- not my style of book. I thought it was too sugary sweet,too good to be true- even allowing for the fact it was a ‘seasonal book’. It was a quick read definitely, so I stuck with it, but I thought the characters were unbelievable and had no substance. Situations were resolved, everyone got on with each other and yes…even the ending was happy and tied up in a nice neat bow!

    • Deborah

      Thank you Alison. Any suggestions for next month’s book?

      • Alison Lobban

        Hi! How about anything by Victoria Hislop? I know she has a new one Cartes Postales from Greece- but any of her previous ones are also really good. Also just got into reading the St. Mary’s books by Jodi Taylor- first in the series is Just One Damned Thing After Another (The Chronicles of St Mary Book 1)

        • I think someone else suggested her Cartes Postales from Greece too

  • Imogen Jamieson

    aaaagh! Sorry not for me either! I thought it would be a fun and light read for Christmas but I just found it too trivial and saccharine! Have a couple of suggestions for next month though ….. Stoner by John Williams or anything by Mary Lawson – Crow Lake is the first of her three novels. Two thought provoking authors and there are sure to be lots of great discussion points. Happy Christmas book clubbers!

    • Deborah

      Thank you Imogen, great suggestions. Crow Lake looks good! Have a fabulous Christmas too x

  • Deborah

    Nice to read a festive piece but I preferred the last one. Any suggestions for next month’s book?

  • Nicola

    Having just joined the club this is 1st book I’ve read with the group. I like a fluffy easy quick to read book that allows for some escapism however this was a bit of a let down and predictable and didn’t really hit the spot

  • Nicola

    Suggestion for next month while my eyes were closed by Linda green

  • Tracey Povey

    I’ve only just joined the club and this was the first book I read. I have to admit I found the book a disappointing, nauseating and sickly sweet although it was a nice story but very predictable which is always good for this time of year. It was all a bit too nice and twee for me and I cannot wait to get my teeth into a good thriller now.

  • Like most of you (so far) this wasn’t my cup of hot chocolate. It felt like the worst kind of formulaic romcom! I never really understood why Becca hated Christmas either (the only event happened when she was older but she’d hated it since she was tiny). Of course, that doesn’t really matter anyway as most of it makes no sense to me … I should confess that this was probably my own fault as I suggested it! Sorry women of Henpicked 🙂

  • Tracey Povey

    Suggestion for next month; The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

  • Tracey Lloyd

    I’m joining the ‘not my cup of hot-chocolate’ brigade. The writing style was quite engaging with some nice turns of phrase, but nothing much happened apart from a quite fun wedding. With the main character being a woman who hated Christmas for no clear reason and spoiler who got her man almost immediately, there wasn’t much to carry interest. I also found my inner grammar grinch getting royally pissed off by the failure to decide what tense to write in at some points – a definite hint that the storyline isn’t quite keeping the attention.

    • Tracey Povey

      I agree, I found myself getting very wound up throughout the book but couldn’t put my finger on the reason why, think it was because of the grammar.

    • Deborah

      Haha, nope. Poldark not my style but have so say neither is Polboring. Hmmm so much promise from the reviews and sadly not delivered for me. Every so often that happens with a book club, I know but I prefer something that makes me think about it after I’ve put the book down. Never mind. At least it was a sweet Christmassy book!

  • Tracy Wood

    Having failed to read last month’s book due to real life intervening I was determined to succeed with this one. Unfortunately I think the best that can be said about it is that it is a nice book by which I mean nothing bad happens, it even snows at the right moment!
    There was no plot to speak of and I didn’t feel empathy with the characters most of whom were stereotypical with obvious dialogue. Any problems were resolved within a few pages and overall nothing stands out a few days after reading it.
    I don’t think I will read another of this author’s books but I am looking forward to finding out what is next for us.

  • Marion

    oh dear, if you hadn’t kindly sent this book to me I would stop reading it now. At best I can describe it as ‘nice’. It is undemanding and uneventful. Its ‘Woman’s Realm’ – kind, gentle and boring. I will finish it but I don’t hold out much hope !

  • Marion

    Well, I have skimmed through to the predictable end. Some of the prose is cringingly awful. The story is sweet and formulaic . It’s undemanding and totally predictable. I don’t think I am the target audience ! I prefer plot twists and unpredictability , have to say I am not going to rush out to buy more by this author !

  • Lesley

    Read this very quickly easy easy read the story was simple and very predictable

  • Claire Robinson

    I didn’t mind it as much as many seem to have! Easy read just before Christmas.

  • Deborah

    Thank you very much Ciara, lovely having you in the Book Club Community! Happy New Year!

  • Fleur Lloyd

    Whilst the book certainly won’t win any awards for it’s use of English language, it was a quick and easy read during Christmas festivities. Onto something else with a bit more grit now I hope.

    • Deborah

      Thank you Fleur! The next one begins – Crow Lake….!!

  • Deborah

    Thank you to all our book champions!!

  • Penny

    I enjoyed Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe. It was what I expected, a light, easy read. The story followed a predictable pattern, with a feel good ending.

  • Norfolkwren

    I am late in joining but did read this a few days ago as I was intrigued that it was a book that seemed to be either loved or disliked.
    Maybe books are like a box of chocolates, hopefully something for all tastes.
    This I would describe as a strawberry cream! Light, sweet, not too taxing…
    Not a hard chewy toffee that you can get your teeth stuck into.

    But I loved it for the light heartedness of it, it drew me in to its warm comfort like a soft rug & a cup of hot chocolate. An easy comforting read which can be just as necessary in life as the more serious demanding novels.

    I forgave any grammatical errors (if indeed I noticed them!) and just relaxed and enjoyed the book.